Lauryn Hill Kicks Out Fan For Complaining About Her Lateness
Via Forbes reports:
I recently went to a Lauryn Hill show at the House of Blues in Chicago. Doors opened at 7:30 but I arrived an hour later. The crowd was so excited to be there, I was inspired to write this piece about the love and connection people feel at a rock concert. The opening act, The Reminders, warmed us up with a killer high-energy show. Then the waiting began.
There are no seats at the House of Blues. It was a weeknight. At around 10:30 the crowd started to boo. An hour later, Lauryn Hill walked onto the stage. She started singing, but stopped after a few minutes because a fan had supposedly given her the finger. “When I get up on this stage, don’t be disrespectful,” she admonished, the irony completely lost on her. She asked security to escort him out. Later in the show she defended herself, “Sometimes its not easy, but we still drag ourselves on this stage night after night.”
Kanye West also reminded his fans who is serving whom at a recent performance in Sydney Australia. He refused to perform until the entire audience stood up. Then he noticed one person still sitting. “This is the longest I’ve had to wait to do a song,” he complained, “it’s unbelievable.” Once he was reassured by his bodyguard that the fan was, indeed, wheelchair bound, he continued the show.
As artists, musicians don’t necessarily think of their fans as customers, and they are certainly not obliged to treat them that way. But what a contrast it is as a fan to be treated with respect!
Coming from outside the music industry, some festivals are approaching fans more like customers. Take the relatively new Firefly Music Festival run by Red Frog Productions. Red Frog entered the festival market from outside the music industry, by organizing races. Their biggest race is the Warrior Dash, a 5K run with 12 obstacles, including crawling through mud, going under barbed wire, and jumping over fire. At the end of the race competitors and their friends hang out, drink craft beer and listen to live music. More than two million people have run the Warrior Dash since 2009.
When the company decided to expand into the festival market, they picked Dover, Delaware because of its central location in the densely populated East Coast. They then designed the festival from the point of view of a customer-centered business. “When we were laying out a festival we didn’t come with, ‘Here’s how it’s done, here’s how we’ve always done it,’” said Festival Director Greg Bostrom. “We came on and said, ‘Hey, if we were coming here’s what we’d like to see.’ So we were able to come at it from a fan’s perspective to decide how to do it.”
Red Frog puts as much effort into designing the fan experience as they do booking the musical lineup. At Firefly there is an air-conditioned onsite brewery where you can watch sports on TV as well as a coffee shop, complete with board games and a small acoustic stage. There are typical festival food options, but also gluten-free and vegan selections. There is a family-friendly air-conditioned arcade. In addition to regular camping, festival attendees have a “glamping” option, where they can stay in an air-conditioned tent with two twin or one queen bed, lamps and outlets. There’s a Hammock Hang Out on the festival grounds for people to nap in during the day.
Sponsors also sweeten the experience for attendees. Hair product company Garnier Fructis has a complimentary salon where women can get their hair washed and styled for free. Shoe company Tom’s has a “Style Your Sole” activation where artists create custom Tom’s on demand.
What do you think of artists treating their fans like customers??